How to Become a Minister

Become Team
Become Team
Updated November 16, 2020

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5 Steps to Becoming a Minister

Step 1
Earn a bachelor's degree
Ministers are required to have a deep understanding of Biblical doctrine, the role of the church, and the philosophy and history of religion. In order to get this education, pastors are required to earn a bachelor's degree in religious studies, religious education, or theology. While in these programs, students take courses in the mystery of God, world religions, religious ethics, marriage and the church, and the Old and New Testaments.
Step 2
Complete a master's degree
Generally, churches expect ministers to hold a master's degree in divinity in order to get employment. These programs are designed to teach students about the rigors of being a church leader and how to handle the responsibility to their congregation and community. Coursework covers writing and delivering sermons, transformational leadership, theological aesthetics, conducting worship services, and political theology.
Step 3
Become ordained
In order to have religious authority in a church, aspiring ministers must undergo the ordination process. Standards for becoming ordained depend on the specific religious denomination. Some churches may require written or oral examinations, while others expect ministers to volunteer at the church for a certain amount of time.
Step 4
Get certified.
Earning a certification can improve your skills and make you a more marketable candidate. Potential certifications include certified applications professional, Cloudera certified professional: data scientist, EMC: data science associate and SAS certified predictive modeler using SAS Enterprise Miner 7.
Step 5
Obtain a license
Some states require ministers to obtain a license in order to work for a church. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so future ministers should find out what is expected of them.

FAQ on Earning Your Minister Degree

Should ministers choose a denomination?

Yes. There are many types of religious denominations, so those that don't have a preference should learn about them and determine which one they connect with most. This can be done by taking courses during college, as well as volunteering for different kinds of churches.

Are ministers required to complete continuing education credits?

It depends on the denomination they are a part of. Some ministry boards require pastors to complete continuing education courses through their church or a professional religious organization.

Should ministers use social media?

Ministers are required to connect with their community, and one way they can do this is by maintaining social media pages. This allows them to communicate with parishioners about what's going on in the church, as well as speak to other pastors and the community at large.

Minister Salary & Job Growth

Ministry is a calling, but those who are thinking about training for this career must still consider their chances of getting a job. This section discusses the job prospects for ministers, as well as their earning potential.

PayScale details the salaries of ministers and reports that the median annual salary they command is $50,080. In addition, the site includes the following breakdown of how much these professionals earn at different stages of their career.

Alabama

Currently Employed: 440

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%

Amount: Mean wage annual: $47,140

Alaska

Currently Employed: 130

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $56,540

Arizona

Currently Employed: 730

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $49,380

Arkansas

Currently Employed: 380

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $45,330

California

Currently Employed: 5,080

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $60,070

Colorado

Currently Employed: 520

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 34%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $55,270

Connecticut

Currently Employed: 450

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $54,650

Delaware

Currently Employed: 60

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $53,930

Florida

Currently Employed: 2,240

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 14%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $47,060

Georgia

Currently Employed: 720

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $52,330

Hawaii

Currently Employed: 480

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $52,830

Idaho

Currently Employed: 150

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 24%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $40,110

Illinois

Currently Employed: 1,980

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 4%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $49,260

Indiana

Currently Employed: 820

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $45,880

Iowa

Currently Employed: 360

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 15%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $48,310

Kansas

Currently Employed: 380

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $44,180

Kentucky

Currently Employed: 510

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $47,320

Louisiana

Currently Employed: 300

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $50,990

Maine

Currently Employed: 60

Change in Employment (2016-2026): -2%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $51,640

Maryland

Currently Employed: 670

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $47,190

Massachusetts

Currently Employed: 590

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 16%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $59,240

Michigan

Currently Employed: 2,470

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $42,070

Minnesota

Currently Employed: 1,070

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $48,190

Mississippi

Currently Employed: 230

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $46,070

Missouri

Currently Employed: 810

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $50,660

Montana

Currently Employed: 650

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $46,610

Nebraska

Currently Employed: 350

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 11%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $46,410

Nevada

Currently Employed: 150

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 18%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $51,450

New Hampshire

Currently Employed: 90

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 11%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $55,620

New Jersey

Currently Employed: 1,200

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $55,730

New Mexico

Currently Employed: 170

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 17%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $49,540

New York

Currently Employed: 8,130

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 18%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $54,280

North Carolina

Currently Employed: 980

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 3%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $48,440

North Dakota

Currently Employed: 100

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $47,120

Ohio

Currently Employed: 1,620

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 4%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $46,360

Oklahoma

Currently Employed: 390

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 7%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $46,870

Oregon

Currently Employed: 4,440

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $50,280

Pennsylvania

Currently Employed: 2,050

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 3%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $47,060

Rhode Island

Currently Employed: 350

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $50,540

South Carolina

Currently Employed: 570

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 17%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $55,710

South Dakota

Currently Employed: 140

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $47,040

Tennessee

Currently Employed: 600

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 9%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $48,320

Texas

Currently Employed: 2,920

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $50,500

Utah

Currently Employed: N/A

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean wage annual: N/A

Vermont

Currently Employed: 50

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 1%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $42,780

Virginia

Currently Employed: 1,400

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 17%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $40,440

Washington

Currently Employed: 510

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 3%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $62,050

West Virginia

Currently Employed: 320

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 6%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $39,660

Wisconsin

Currently Employed: 600

Change in Employment (2016-2026): 10%

Amount: Mean Wage Annual: $48,340

Wyoming

Currently Employed: N/A

Change in Employment (2016-2026): N/A

Amount: Mean wage annual: N/A

According to O*NET OnLine, there will be a five to nine percent growth of jobs for ministers between 2016 and 2026, which amounts to 29,200 positions created during this time. The exact number of available minister jobs will be tied to the economy, however, as denominations are unlikely to build new churches during lean economic times.

Ministers have a huge responsibility to their communities, so they should get the best training available to prepare them for it. This section provides information to help those interested in training for ministry find the school that's right for them.

Students who enter degree programs have several concerns that guide their decision. Those in search of a degree want to know how much their tuition will cost. Other concerns may include how long it takes to complete a program, whether or not they can earn a certification during their time in the program, and how courses are delivered. Use the following tool to search schools by these criteria and find the program that meets your needs.

Professional Minister Associations & Groups

Being in ministry is all about community, so joining professional associations can help pastors stay connected with each other and learn skills that will make them more effective in their home churches. The following are examples of some of the organizations ministers can become a part of.

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association

Promotes excellence in ministry, education, and collaboration among colleagues. The association offers events, mentoring services, and a library of resources.

International Ministerial Association

This association has worked to empower ministers since 1954. Offers education programs and other events.

National Association of Christian Ministers

This interdenominational Christian association provides training, leadership development, and mentoring services.

Evangel Association of Churches and Ministries

Provides networking and training to professional ministers.

National Campus Ministry Association

This group is geared toward ministers who work in a higher education setting. Members participate in an annual conference, receive a quarterly newsletter, and have access to opportunities to network with each other.

Association of Youth Ministry Educators

Dedicated to those who work in the youth ministry field. It provides an annual conference, a member directory, awards for excellence, and professional development sessions. The organization also publishes the Journal of Youth Ministry.

Federation of Christian Ministries

Provides certifications, continuing education, newsletters, and regional and national assemblies.

Association of Pastoral Ministers

Members of this organization participate in community building and networking events and education programs.

International Association of Women Ministers

Supports women in ministry by providing opportunities to network and learn.

National Association for Lay Ministry

This organization has been dedicated to the needs of those in lay ministry in the Catholic Church since 1976.

Resources for Ministers

In order to be effective in ministry, professionals should always work on sharpening their skills and knowledge. The following resources can help.

Minister's Toolbox - Stitcher

This podcast is designed to help pastors handle the challenges of working in the ministry. Includes interviews with ministers and discussions of topics ministers should consider.

Pastor Resources - The JCA Company

This site provides resources to pastors to help them be effective in their jobs.

Enrichment Journal - AG.org

Journal designed to equip ministers with the tools they need to lead a congregation.

Characteristics Of Effective Ministers (Colossians 1:24-19) - Bible.org

Provides Biblical advice on how to be an effective minister.

Called into Ministry? Five Questions to Ask Yourself - Credo House

This article provides advice to those considering becoming a minister.

Well-Being and Excellence in Ministry: A Practical Resource for Ministers and Caring Congregations - Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Provides insights from ministers on how to be a successful pastor.

The 6 Core Responsibilities of a Senior Pastor OutreachMagazine.com

Outlines what is expected from senior pastors.

The Senior Pastor's Role and Responsibilities in Leading a Pastoral Staff - Liberty University Christian College Education

Discusses the responsibilities head pastors have to their staff, their congregants, and their communities.

Ministry Magazine - General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Monthly magazine for ministers that has been providing advice since 1928.

Preaching.com

This site provides articles, podcasts, and videos for ministers.

Become Team
Become Team
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